DraftKings proved it was much more than a daily fantasy sports service in August.

Since launching its New Jersey online sports betting operation, DraftKings Sportsbook, the company has been the NJ sports betting industry leader. And its reign is not in question.

Now DraftKings is out to prove it’s much more than a DFS/sports betting service.

Mere days after the company introduced a preview of blackjack within its mobile app for Android and iOS users, DraftKings has already begun seeing positive results as it continues its quest to become a one-stop shop for NJ online gambling.

Sources close to DraftKings also indicated that, with blackjack performing well and customers showing excitement about the casino-style game, the company will likely accelerate plans to add more casino games to the sportsbook app.

Perhaps, sources said, those games could be introduced before the new year.

In a statement from Matt Kalish, DraftKings co-founder and chief revenue officer:

“DraftKings is building a true one-stop destination for skin-in-the-game American sports fans. This is an early preview of our larger strategy to roll out iGaming products in the new year. As with our industry-leading DFS and Sportsbook products, customers can expect to see new product innovation, seamless integration with the full DraftKings platform, and amazing gameplay experience.”

“There’s tremendous excitement,” a DraftKings spokesman said in a phone interview. “One is just because, what are we, a day and a half into it? And already the performance is really encouraging.

“I think we thought that casino-style games like blackjack are a perfect complement to DFS and sportsbook products, which are already in market and doing really well.”

DraftKings establishes a cross section

For five years, online gambling in the Garden State has evolved from a fledgling industry into a powerful beast.

Four times since March, NJ online casinos have set state records in monthly revenues. That includes November, during which the industry reported nearly $27 million in gross revenue. And the trend continues upward.

“Obviously, there’s been iGaming in New Jersey for (five years),” the DraftKings spokesman said. “In some ways, it’s an old hat for a lot of people in New Jersey. They’re used to it. They know it.”

Certainly, DraftKings possesses a vast customer base. Just after the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA, DraftKings co-founder Jason Robins noted that his company boasted nearly 10 million users.

It would not surprise anyone to learn if that figure has grown since DraftKings introduced its sportsbook.

Yet, as the NJ online casino industry continued churning out jaw-dropping revenue numbers, DraftKings took notice. Not necessarily just the revenue. But what led to it — the popularity of NJ online gambling had skyrocketed.

And DraftKings identified a market it had yet to reach. After all, not all online gambling enthusiasts are sports bettors.

DraftKings, already taking up quite a bit of space in the Garden State, found more room to expand.

“I think DraftKings is unique in that we attract a real cross section of sports bettors and fans and now iGaming enthusiasts,” the DraftKings spokesman said. “We have a lot of customers that are new to iGaming and mobile casino who might have migrated from DFS to sports betting and are now checking out blackjack. And certainly we might attract some veterans of the iGaming space.”

Leaping at the online casino opportunity

DraftKings is never content. That might be one of the few certainties in life.

It never settles. It always strives for more. It doesn’t want to be known as a No. 15 seed in the NCAA tournament that upset a potential title contender. It wants to be the blue-blood program with dozens of banners hung in the rafters.

DraftKings wants to be a powerhouse as if it weren’t already.

Naturally, then, the company needs to continue to adapt. And with blackjack (and, down the road, additional casino-style games), DraftKings does just that.

“I think any time we’re presented with an opportunity to add to our suite of products, to engage with more customers, we’re going to seize it,” the DraftKings spokesman said. “It all sort of started with sports betting. … Once we got that, (casino-style games) was something we looked at seriously.”

DraftKings has more up its sleeve

Blackjack is just the start — at least in casino games — for DraftKings.

The company has more in store, to be sure, the DraftKings spokesman said.

He also emphasized that this latest offering is known as “a preview” of blackjack, but not because it’s a beta-test version or anything. But because that terminology, the spokesman said, encourages customer input.

“Part of what we want to do is engage customer feedback and insight,” the spokesman said. “Because we probably draw a more diverse customer base than a lot of other operators, we want our customers to experience it and to get feedback from them to see how it performs and see what they’re asking for.”

Over the next few weeks, per the spokesman, DraftKings will add more casino-style games. “Games,” he said, “that people are used to playing in New Jersey iGaming. … The type of games you expect to find.”

And for the time being, he noted, those games will remain integrated within the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

“But,” he added, “that’s certainly something in the future that might change. Right now, though, during what is sort of the preview of blackjack and more games to come, it’s just going to be part of the sportsbook app.”

DraftKings staying ahead of the game

No online sports betting service in New Jersey has performed better than DraftKings Sportsbook.

Granted, the operation got nearly a monthlong head start on the competition. Yet DraftKings has accounted for the majority of the $23,738,695 reported by Resorts Atlantic City, DraftKings’ land-based partner.

And last month, the retail sportsbook at Resorts got a new look with the help of DraftKings.

With blackjack, and with the incoming slate of other casino-style games, DraftKings can accomplish several goals.

  1. Offer a different experience to its existing customers.
  2. Introduce casino-style games to a crowd that perhaps has not encountered them.
  3. Attract some of the online casino crowd to the DraftKings “suite of products,” as the spokesman put it.

Meeting all, or any, of those goals, however, does not mean success or failure for DraftKings. Rather, the company is just out to prove it cannot be pigeon-holed.

“We’re committed to offering the most competitive product on the market,” the DraftKings spokesman said. “While we are new to the iGaming space, our goal is to make an impact, attract customers, give our existing customers something new they can play.

“Obviously, it’s New Jersey right now. But if there are other opportunities in other states where iGaming is permitted, that’s certainly something we’d look into. If it was something we could offer in a state, we would absolutely intend to. This is something that has become part of our DraftKings platform.”

Grant Lucas

About

Grant Lucas is a longtime sportswriter who has covered the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield, and Oregon State athletics and the Portland Trail Blazers throughout his career.